Friday, May 8, 2009

Emily Giffin: Something Borrowed

Something Borrowed: C+
Chick-lit, women's fiction

An unexpected love affair threatens a long-lived friendship in this soap opera–like debut from Atlanta ex-lawyer Giffin. Since elementary school, Rachel and Darcy have been best friends, with Darcy always outshining Rachel. While single Rachel is the self-confessed good girl, an attorney trapped at a suffocating New York law firm, Darcy is the complete opposite, a stereotypical outgoing publicist, planning a wedding with the handsome Dex. After Rachel's 30th birthday party, she knocks back one drink too many and winds up in bed with Dex. Instead of feeling guilty about sleeping with her best friend's fiancé, Rachel realizes that Dex is the only man she's really loved, and that she's always resented manipulative Darcy. Rachel and Dex spend a few weekends in the city together "working" while Darcy's off with friends at a Hamptons beach share, but finally Rachel realizes she'll have to give Dex an ultimatum... (Publisher's Weekly)

Here is a book that I loathed to read. Really, really loathed. There are many reasons as to why I would have never even touched this novel.

1. I hate reading about cheaters
2. Rachel, the heroine, cheats with her best friend's fiance.
3. I hate cheaters.

"But Alice," my book buddy Nancy said to me, "just try it."

And so, I did, with mixed feelings. And all through the book, I read with mixed feelings.

This book is not a romance. It, however, is a book about friendship, about relationships, and about self and on discovering who you are.

The gist of the story is this: Rachel turns thirty. She has a party, with of course, her best friend, Darcy, who is gorgeous and everything Rachel is not. Rachel is smart and intelligent, but more Plain Jane than anything else.

So she turns thirty. She gets pretty drunk. She and Darcy's fiance, Dex, are on their way home when step after another, they get to her place, and they do the unthinkable.

What was so hard for me to read about this book was not that they cheat once and own up to their mistakes.

It's that they repeatedly sleep with each other - and the "mistake" turns into a full-fledged affair. A secret affair. It's the fact that they both knew what they were doing, and yet they did the wrong thing.. over and over and over again.

Gritty. Dirty. Ugly.



Griffin explains why the affair happens: that Rachel had always had feelings for Dex but never felt she was good enough, how Dex really loved Rachel, too, but got caught up with Darcy, how Darcy is selfish and pretty-much spoiled...

..and it's through this affair that Rachel is finally able to say, "Darcy, I love you because you're my best friend, but I love myself and I care about what I want, too." - and hence the affair. Rachel wants it and she wants Dex.

But, good citizens of the earth, we cannot all have what we want. And no matter what anyone tells me, getting involved with a man who is already in a relationship is wrong on so many different levels. Have more respect for yourself: if I was Rachel and Dex claims to love me, why can't he love me enough to leave Darcy? Why does our relationship - our love - have to be something clandestine?

It's not a healthy way to start - or be in a relationship, and I don't care what your heart tells you. Listen to your rational brain!

However, I will give Emily Giffin credit in that... the book sucks you in. I read it, partially cringing, partially intrigued - in the same way a fatal car accident is (minus someone dying). And it did give me much to think about.

What would I have done if I was in Rachel's position?
What would I do if I was in love with my sister's (with whom I'm very close with) or best friend's fiance?

As much as I would love to jump up and yell, NO, I WOULD NEVER DO WHAT RACHEL DID!, I cannot be 100% sure.

All I can hope is that I wouldn't do what Rachel did: I hope I would be woman enough to find myself - and respect myself - to walk away and do what is right to myself, no matter how delectable the boy is.

In conclusion: read if you want to think about these issues. But don't read if you want a snuggle, feel-good romance. It's definitely not that.

A B+ for writing style - she really is marvelous at telling the story, but D for the overall content of story.

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